Robert Kraft has influenced American soccer since the early 1990s. And now, he will play a role in the United Bid Committee of Canada, Mexico and the United States, which has its sights set on bringing the 2026 World Cup to North America.
After officially launching last week, the committee announced on Wednesday that Kraft would serve as Honorary Chairman of the Board.
The Brookline, Mass. native will bring experience from the 1994 World Cup, when he secured Foxboro Stadium as one of nine host venues for the tournament. The World Cup was deemed a massive success and, in the eyes of many, paved the way for the founding of Major League Soccer. Kraft and his family went on to establish the Revolution on June 6, 1995, taking the helm of a charter franchise ahead of the inaugural 1996 MLS season.
"My first exposure to world class soccer and the unique power of the FIFA World Cup came in 1994 when we hosted six games at Foxboro Stadium. The intensity of the matches, the truly exceptional athleticism of the competitors, the pageantry and energy of the crowds all created an environment unlike anything else in sport," Kraft said in a press release. "By 2026, more than 30 years will have passed since we hosted the FIFA World Cup and its return to North America is long overdue. I am honored to be serving in this role and eager to do everything in my power to bring the FIFA World Cup back to North America to share the competition with all the deserving fans in the United States, Canada and Mexico."
Between now and March 16, 2018—when a formal bid is due to FIFA—Kraft and the United Bid Committee will formalize its World Cup pitch. The committee has already launched an outreach program to more than 40 cities in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.; pundits expect a record-setting number of locations will compete to serve as official host cities.
Collaboration with all levels of government, and with the business and soccer communities, will prove paramount if the committee wants to win its bid for the upcoming World Cup.
To make this happen, the committee has incorporated leaders from all three countries involved in the bid. Executive leadership will come from John Kristick (Executive Director) and Jim Brown (Managing Director of Technical Operations). The two are joined by Canada Soccer General Secretary Peter Montopoli and Mexico Bid Director Yon De Luisa.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber will serve on the Board of Directors alongside U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, in addition to eight other representatives.
If successful, the committee will help bring the World Cup to the CONCACAF region for the first time in 32 years.